Big Ten Title Win Shows Ohio State has Comeback Gene
Ohio State won't admit now that it hoped to avoid Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals, perhaps because it has more evidence than before that it truly possesses what it only previously believed in theory.
The Buckeyes' comeback from a 21-7 halftime deficit in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin confirms that they not only can take a punch, but can get off the mat when knocked down and come back to win the fight.
Head coach Ryan Day kept saying his team had that quality all season, but he couldn't have known until OSU finally encountered that reality.
The Buckeyes never trailed at halftime of any game, and as much as they touted their capacity to stay focused in the moment and fashion a comeback amid adversity, even their recent wins over No. 10 Penn State and No. 13 Michigan didn't prove the existence of those qualities.
OSU led Penn State at halftime by two touchdowns and led Michigan by 12 points.
So even though the Nittany Lions rallied within 21-17, and even though Michigan scored 16 in the first half, Ohio State wasn't threatened to the max either time.
That didn't happen until seeing Wisconsin for the second time this season, and the Buckeyes' response had elements of both the Penn State and Michigan win under different duress.
OSU figured out on the fly how to fix its turnover issues and stop Penn State's Zone Read rushing offense in the fourth quarter to pull away and triumph, 28-17.
At Michigan, after allowing Shea Patterson to complete 14-of-19 passes for 250 yards in the first half, OSU limited him to 4-of-24 for 55 yards in the second.
Wisconsin helped the Buckeyes clamp down in the second half by getting away from the plays that made it successful through two quarters.
The Badgers kept Ohio State off balance with four first-down passes in moving ahead, 21-7, but ran on first down four of five times in the third quarter before throwing more once the Buckeyes took the lead.
Wisconsin's offense gained 294 yards in the first half, but only 138 after that and did not score in the third or fourth quarter.
In the second half, Wisconsin never tried the Zone Read play quarterback Jack Coan used to rush unimpeded for a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Taylor, after gaining 135 yards on 13 carries in the first half, gained just 13 yards on seven attempts after halftime.
"At halftime, you get into those games, three emotional games in a row and then we've kind of got our backs up against the wall down two scores at halftime, and it took toughness and it took love in that locker room for us to come out the way we did in the third quarter," Day said. "That was probably the coolest quarter of football I've ever been a part of, the combination of Buckeye Nation just taking over that stadium and then the way our offense and defense were in a frenzy.
"There were players coming off the field with so much emotion that there was actually tears coming out of their eyes. It was one of the coolest experiences I've ever been a part of, and then to celebrate with that team after coming back like that, that was the best game we've had all year because of that, and we found out a lot about ourselves."
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